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When goods are sold or a service is provided, whether that’s direct to a customer or other businesses, they must align with the agreed description, be of satisfactory quality and be fully fit for their intended purpose. 
In commercial transactions, sale of goods disputes can often arise when there’s a discrepancy between the delivered goods or services and the buyer’s expectations, particularly when there are concerns that the goods are broken, damaged or spoiled.
These disputes can have a profound impact on both businesses and consumers, especially when impacting day-to-day operations or the buyer’s reputation.
Sale of goods disputes are often contractual disputes, at their core, and incur an investigation of all contractual documents to identify their key terms and require detailed evidence of the supplied goods or service. In the absence of written terms, statutory implied terms (i.e. those that have not been expressly stated but implied during the purchase) can be relevant. 

Common Causes of Sale of Goods Disputes
Sale of Goods disputes often occur due to contentions involving interruptions in the supply chain, variations in the quality of the delivered goods, faults in the products or services received or changes to the initial agreement.

UK Legal Framework for Sale of Goods Disputes
In the UK, sale of goods disputes are anchored by two decisive pieces of legislation which are both designed to ensure fairness and transparency in all commercial transactions. These include:

  • The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for the purchase of goods or services received on or prior to 30th September 2015): The Sale of Goods Act stipulates that all goods or services sold must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. It also outlines the solutions available to buyers when the goods do not meet these requirements, including repair, replacement or a refund.
  • Consumer Rights Act 2015 (for the purchase of goods or services after 1st October 2015): The Consumer Rights Act consolidated multiple pieces of consumer rights legislation to increase protections for consumers, expanding their rights to include transactions involving digital content. Similar to the Sale of Goods Act, it outlines the right to goods of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described, along with detailing the solutions available to buyers when the goods do not meet standards. 

While these acts encourage integrity and accountability in business practices, they also provide a pathway for negotiation and litigation when disputes arise.

Verbal Contracts
In the event that goods or services have been acquired without the existence of a written agreement or formal contract, verbal contracts can be legally binding. When a breach of verbal contract occurs, stakeholders and consumers still have the right to legal discourse to recover losses or damages, but this often relies on evidence to prove the agreement existed.

Impact on Stakeholders
Sale of goods disputes can significantly affect both businesses and consumers. 
Businesses might face considerable financial losses, reputational damage and strained relationships with their customers. These issues could lead to operational disruptions and loss of market confidence. 
Consumers, on the other hand, may experience dissatisfaction and financial setbacks, which can diminish trust in the purchasing process. 

Resolution Strategies and Litigation
To resolve sale of goods disputes, strategies such as negotiation, mediation and litigation can be strengthened by early neutral evaluation or collaborative law.
Early neutral evaluation involves an independent expert evaluating the case, providing both parties with a clear explanation of their positions.
Alternatively, the legal practice of collaborative law could be used to help both parties foster a cooperative relationship, working with their legal representatives to find a mutually acceptable solution to the claim. 
In either case, it’s important to seek legal advice at an early stage to avoid the dispute escalating further, particularly in commercial disputes, as this could maintain business relationships and avoid expensive litigation in the future.

Preventative Measures
As a commercial trader, you should first review all practices and terms and conditions to ensure that you are fully compliant with the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It’s also important to ensure all staff are trained on legal compliance to avoid any incidental breaches. 
Implementing robust feedback mechanisms can also be beneficial to identify any potential issues before they escalate into disputes.

How can GloverPriest help?
To avoid Sale of Goods disputes getting worse or turning into expensive legal battles, it's important to seek advice from legal experts early on. Solicitors who focus on commercial disputes can help guide you through the issues, explain your contract responsibilities and suggest ways to resolve conflicts.

Contact our Expert Sale of Goods Dispute Solicitors
At GloverPriest Solicitors, we provide friendly and transparent legal advice. If you would like further advice on sale of goods dispute matters, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our expert contract solicitors today. Complete our enquiry form.

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